When we radically changed our life a little over a year ago, I ended up adopting three principles, in conversation with my husband:
- Is it frugal? We were giving up my income and moving to a very expensive urban area. While my husband's new salary more than made up for those changes, we needed to think carefully about how we intended to live going forward. We'd paid off virtually all of our debt during our move. Our goal was to live way below our means, and to have money in the bank, instead of owed to the bank.
- Is it simple? Most days found us stressed and exhausted in our old life. We weren't happy, and it was bad for our marriage, our child, our healthy, our sanity. Simplicity meant less stuff, more time. Less stress, more joy. It's the hardest concept to articulate, but when you're in your life, you almost always know the right choice.
- Is it green? Believe it or not, being frugal and simple and sane actually leads to being green. First, you've got the time and energy to think about it. Second, many of the activities we chose now that we had time pushed us to be more in touch with the natural world - kayaking our urban rivers, taking long walks through our local parks. And lastly, since this all happened along with us having a young child - soon to be children - it's hard to not think about the world we're leaving for them.
And so while our Green Quotient has gone up - way up - in the past year, it's only part of the picture. Many of our choices - walking and relying on mass transit whenever possible, for example - actually have to do with #2. Rather than fuss about getting to the gym, both Franklin and I easily walk two miles a day without thinking about it - it's how we get from A to B. So we're getting a minimum of 20 minutes of daily activity. It allows Franklin time to decompress from work, connects us to our neighborhood and gets us a daily dose of Vitamin D - sunshine, the natural mood lifter. Since we often walk together, it also allows us time to connect as a couple.
The fact that it's frugal factors in, too, and when I need encouragement? Well, it's green. And that keeps my feet on the pavement, even in the heat of a Washington DC summer when I'm heavily pregnant.
So that's the trifecta - hard to pull off, but incredibly fulfilling when it happens.